All Police Officers Are Not Heroes

We use the term “hero” too loosely.

There’s a growing consensus among well-meaning Americans that certain people automatically attain a certain status just because of their job position. Many people think that all police officers are heroes, but they’re not. There’s plenty of corruption in our law enforcement agencies. Police officers are still just sinful human beings, and just because they have a certain position doesn’t make them heroes. For many of them, this welcomed status has gone to their heads and fed their egos until they feel as though they are above the law, and that they can be abusive and get away with anything just because they are police officers.

Last year in Chicago, a young man named Laquan McDonald was carrying a small knife and walking away from police officers–not even threatening them, and Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke shot the young man 16 times in 15 seconds. He has been charged with first-degree murder. Was he a hero?

This year in Oklahoma City, police officer Daniel Holtzclaw was accused of assaulting or raping 13 women while he was no the job. He has been found guilty on 18 counts of sexual battery, forcible oral sodomy and rape. Was he a hero?

In May, 2013, Fort Worth police officer Richard Hoeppner went to the wrong house and shot an innocent 72-year grandfather seven times, killing him. The officer not only shot and murdered the grandfather in his own garage, but he shot him seven times. Think about that. Do you suppose that shooting the elderly man six times might have been plenty? After the sixth shot, what prompted the officer to shoot the seventh time, other than making sure that the murder was complete, probably in order to ensure that the only honest witness to the crime couldn’t testify? On January 29, 2014, a grand jury failed to even indict the officer. If the grandfather had murdered the officer, there is no doubt that he would have been charged, and police officers would have come from near and far to honor the “heroic” officer at his funeral. Is a police officer’s life more precious than anyone else’s?   The officer’s partner, Benjamin B. Hanlon, was later fired for falsifying a report. Were they heroes?

I’m just saying that we need to be careful before we elevate anybody to hero status. I’m thankful for the good and honest officers that we have, and I’m even glad to pay their salaries. I would just like for their training to include more instructions about honesty, humility, and the abuse of deadly force.

Let’s save the term “hero” for real heroes.

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